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England's big cities must become economic powerhouses if the ...
England's big cities must become economic powerhouses if the

government's drive to boost the quality of life around the country is

to be a success, local government and regions minister Hilary

Armstrong said today.

Ms Armstrong told the Core Cities Conference - a summit comprising

Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and

Bristol - that the country needed strong, thriving and competitive

cities throughout the regions, not just in London.

Ms Armstrong said:

'Our towns and cities are economic drivers, cultural centres and

major service providers. Success in them will improve living

standards well beyond their boundaries. That is why the government's

priority is to drive forward the urban renaissance, which we will be

setting out in the Urban White Paper this autumn.

'Alongside strong economies, we need to create strong communities.

That means providing good services - good schools, low crime and

attractive, vibrant and interesting areas. This is why the Urban

White Paper will emphasise the need to tackle economic, social and

physical concerns together. It also means modernising local

government to create the strong and accountable local leadership

communities need. The option of directly elected mayors where people

want them will help bring this about in our towns and cities.

'To be successful, we need to be creative and flexible, and we need

to try to make use of everyone's talents. Crucially, our main cities

recognise this need and this conference is a symbol of that

commitment to change. Each city already has much to be proud of, but

they recognise that much still needs to be done. We want to work with

them and through the white paper we hope to give our main cities the

tools they need to meet their potential.'

Ms Armstrong said that while all the cities had their economic

strengths, they also each had areas that were among the most deprived

in England. The new Indices of Deprivation, published last month,

would help them identify their poorest areas and tackle that

deprivation head on.

The government has already kicked off many initiatives that will help

towns and cities, such as raising education standards and tackling

planning and housing issues, and in the Spending Review set out how

billions of pounds will go to improving life around the country. Ms

Armstrong said the challenge now was to make sure that money - which

the strong economy had made available - made a positive difference to

people's lives.

Also speaking at the conference were education and employment

secretary David Blunkett, trade minister Richard Caborn and chief

economic advisor to the treasury Ed Balls.


1. The Urban White Paper will be published when the House returns

this autumn. The government's responses to the Urban Task Force

Report and the select committee on the Urban White Paper will both

be published at the same time. The government will also publish a

Rural White Paper, setting out how we can improve the quality of

life in the countryside.

2. The Social Exclusion Unit's National Strategy for Neighbourhood

Renewal Action Plan will also be published this autumn.

3. The Indices of Deprivation, announced last month, give a

detailed analysis of deprivation throughout England. This updated

information will help target policies and funding more effectively

to needy areas, underpinning the government's commitment to

tackling disadvantage. Details can be found on the DETR's


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